DHHS Honors Ponca Tribe of Nebraska’s Community Health Manager with “CHW Outstanding Service Award” for Distinguished Service

News Release
For Immediate Release: 12/29/2021

Jeff Powell, (402) 471-6223


Lincoln, Neb. – The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced that Nancie Velasquez, the Community Health Manager for the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, was named the recipient of the Community Health Worker (CHW) Outstanding Service Award. 

CHWs are a vital part of the public healthcare system. CHWs serve as a bridge between public health, health care services, and community resources to assist individuals and communities to improve health. CHWs conduct outreach and education to promote health and improve access to resources and services. Additionally, they work to ensure quality and cultural accessibility of services in Nebraska for all people. 

Ms. Velasquez was nominated by a team of colleagues from the Ponca Tribe including Larry Wright Jr., the Tribal Chairman. She received the award particularly for her activities responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic began Ms. Velasquez was vital in organizing contact tracing efforts and the distribution of personal protective equipment to the community.

In addition, she personally organized meal and grocery distribution to hundreds of tribal elders, helped tribal members with rental assistance applications, and set up rides to medical appointments.

The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska is one of two federally recognized tribes of the Ponca people and one of four tribes in the state of Nebraska. Chief Standing Bear, the famous American Indian civil rights leader whose bust sits in Nebraska's State Capitol Hall of Fame and the US Capitol, was a member of the Ponca Tribe.

The Maternal and Child Health program at DHHS is funded by the federal Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant and works with CHW and others to provide education and workforce development activities for Nebraska CHW, many of whom work in local communities with families and children, in-home visiting, early childhood, and other parent support programs. The CHW workforce is a key component of a transformed, effective health care system that achieves population health for all women, children, and families. 

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